DI Press Release: Afghanistan 2010 Wolesi Jirga Elections

DI Releases Final Observation Report and Calls for the Dissolution of Special Court

Washington, June 24 – U.S.-based Democracy International (DI), which deployed the largest international election observation mission to the September 2010 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, on Friday released its final observation report and called for the dissolution of the special election court that has claimed the authority to alter the results of the September elections.

“The continued existence of the special election court hinders the ability of the parliament to operate free from intimidation,” said Glenn Cowan, Head of Mission for DI’s election observation mission. “This ill-advised and illegitimate court’s recent decision to invalidate individual legislative election outcomes is potentially destabilizing and inconsistent with Afghanistan’s constitution and electoral law.”

The special election court established through presidential decree has been declared illegal by Afghanistan’s legally constituted electoral management bodies, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), and its parliament, the Wolesi Jirga. Afghanistan’s constitution and electoral law, however, grant sole jurisdiction for electoral oversight to the country’s IEC and ECC. The mere existence of the special court undermines the authority of the properly constituted institutions to supervise elections, as provided in Article 156 of Afghanistan’s constitution. The court’s rulings purporting to change the composition of the parliament are likely to be disastrous for the long-term viability of legitimate electoral institutions.

“The Government of Afghanistan should announce the dissolution of the special court immediately and vacate the court’s decisions so the parliament can turn its focus to the serious issues facing Afghanistan today,” continued Cowan.

Afghanistan’s 2010 parliamentary election process marked an important milestone in the country’s ongoing struggle to establish the democratic foundation necessary for stabilization in the post-Taliban era. Compared to the 2009 elections, the conduct of the electoral process up to and including election day in 2010 was much improved. Despite their lack of independence from the government and in the face of continuing profound security challenges, Afghanistan’s electoral institutions managed an improved election. The Independent Election Commission showed the citizens of Afghanistan that it could administer an election in a generally independent and impartial fashion.
Unfortunately, however, insurgent groups again disrupted the process by threatening voters and candidates. Moreover, as described in DI’s report, allegations of fraud, both founded and unfounded, continued to undermine electoral legitimacy.

Much work remains to strengthen the election system and election administration in Afghanistan. Only with serious electoral reform can the aspirations of millions of Afghans—who strive for peace, stability, and real democracy—be realized.

For the September elections, Democracy International deployed 80 international election observers including 19 long-term observers to 14 provinces. DI observed and reported on all aspects of the pre-election period, election day, and the post-election period.

The final observation report released today by Democracy International is based on information gathered through the ongoing work of Democracy International in support of Afghanistan’s democratic transition. The full report can be found in the Resources section of this website.